Austere Ministers: Krishna at Maurya, Tharoor at Taj
For all the Congress talk of austerity and sacrifice in the time of drought — its MPs have been asked to pay 20% of their salary for drought relief — two of its high-profile Ministers are comfortably settled in two five-star hotels in the capital.
For over three months now, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna is at ITC's Maurya on Sardar Patel Marg and his junior Shashi Tharoor at Hotel Taj Mahal on Man Singh Road. Both pay their own bills but neither of them — nor the hotels — say how much they have paid so far.
According to their poll affidavits, Krishna has assets worth Rs 18 crore and Tharoor Rs 15 crore. The ostensible reason for their five-star stay is that their "official accommodation" is not ready.
When Krishna entered Rajya Sabha in the UPA's last term, he was allotted the residence of former External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh at 19, Teen Murti Lane. However, he found the house in a "poor state" and so renovation was ordered. On becoming External Affairs Minister, Krishna got himself a bungalow allotted on Thyagaraja Marg which again is under renovation.
In the case of Tharoor, he was offered accommodation in Kerala House after the polls but is said to have turned it down. He's been allotted a house in Lodhi Estate which is getting "done up". His office says the Minister plans to move next week — a good 100 days after the new government took charge.
It's learnt that Krishna is checked in at the Maurya's Presidential suite on the 16th floor. The suite's tariff, hotel staff said, is "on request." In other words, there's no declared tariff for the four Presidential suites in the hotel which have had guests like US President George W Bush and Bill Clinton. Industry insiders say the room tariff is in the range of Rs 1 lakh plus per night although "it can be negotiated."